ELKTON — Before Elkton took the field before the biggest game of its regular season, the Golden Elks received a pregame speech from former Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith.
Elkton’s game against Oakdale, a rematch of last year’s 2A state semifinals, was selected as Ravens RISE High School Football Showdown. Both teams took the field by running through pyrotechnics put on by the Ravens. Smith addressed the teams individually, took part in the pregame coin toss and mingled with fans.
“I had the opportunity to talk to both teams. It was really about cherishing the moments they have,” Smith said. “Obviously, being retired, I have the opportunity to reflect on my own personal journey, and I remember everything about my high school days. That’s when the game was pure. That’s when it was the most fun with your friends, the people that you grew up with. You’re not going to get that opportunity again, so cherish it and have fun.”
Elkton sure had fun Friday as it avenged last season’s playoff loss with a 31-14 win.
“It was outstanding. I don’t think they could have picked a better game to come out,” Elks coach Matt Feeney said. “What they put on in a short amount of time and getting Torrey Smith here, hats off to the Ravens for supporting community high school football.”
The community support in Elkton impressed Smith, too.
“It’s awesome to watch the community come out and support the team,” he said. “To watch the Ravens support of the high school teams, to watch them run through there, I can’t imagine the feeling they had. To watch their energy, it’s pretty cool. Not a lot of people had that experience.”
Smith, a second-round pick of the Ravens in 2011 out of the University of Maryland, announced his retirement from the NFL last month.
He played the first four years of his career with the Ravens from 2011-14 and was an integral part of the 2012 Super Bowl-winning squad. He was a fan favorite in Baltimore for his charitable work and presence in the community.
Smith played for three more teams since leaving the Ravens, including winning his second Super Bowl as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles, but has returned to Baltimore in retirement and continues to associate himself with the Ravens.
“I tell people ‘I’m a Virginia boy, but I became a man in Maryland,’” Smith said. “Going to the University of Maryland and having an opportunity to play for the Ravens, living in the area, I connected with the city. The city has embraced my family and embraced me. It’s home. You always take care of home. I’m excited about spending my life here.”
Follow Sean Grogan on Twitter: @Sean_CecilWhig